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Discretionary Decision Making in Child Welfare: Finding Spaces for Antioppressive Practice

<p>For the purposes of this thesis I interviewed four women. The interviews sought to uncover how these women experienced discretionary decision-making and whether it was a vehicle for novel and emancipatory work. I also asked what and how did the competing policies structure their work and decision-making? What have been their experience and their power in the change making process? Where are some of the locations of change as they experience and understand it? Where do they see change necessary in the structure of these policies?</p> <p>These four women worked in two different child welfare agencies. The larger of the two agencies has recently undertaken an anti-racism education and organizational change initiative. This work is critical to maintaining or establishing healthy communities. The experience and energies of practitioners must be harnessed as generators of practical assessments and solutions regarding systemic oppression and practical problems. This experience must also be employed as a vehicle for political change both at the frontline and throughout the policy making process.</p> <p>Although discretionary decision making could clearly be a site for emancipatory work and a vehicle for antioppressive practice, the data show that it was not utilized as such to any great extent in the professional lives of these four women. All four respondents spoke about anti oppressive practice and change as a regular aspect of the work in their agency; all also indicated that there are a significant number of barriers to practicing within this framework.</p> <p>This work of critical analysis is not covered under existing funding frameworks, nor is it quantifiable through current accountability measures, and thus it remains invisible work. In an era of New Public Management with the contracting out of services, lean service provision built upon principals of just-intime production, it becomes increasingly difficult to justify these efforts of resistance and service reform. Unless the lack of an antioppressive framework can be linked to increased risk to children and families, and thus become a liability to the service providers, it seems unlikely that this reform will be effectively engaged and carried through to completion.</p> / Master of Social Work (MSW)
Date January 2005
CreatorsRyan, Laura
ContributorsBaines, Donna, Social Policy
Source SetsMcMaster University
Detected LanguageEnglish

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